Understanding the Manager

When you hear the word “manager”, What do you think about? Which role do you imagine?

Yesterday, I was presented with the following question in class:

From your experience, What specific qualities does it take to be an effective manager ?

Now, I have my own answers, like the ability to listen, to identify strengths and weakness in others and the ability to give specific, constructive and practical feedback. But then someone in our class said: “entrepreneurism”. For a minute I was shocked. I value entrepreneurism, but what does that have to do with managing people?

Then it hit me. He was not talking about managing people; he probably had a different picture of a manager in mind. Because, if you are a product manager or a customer service manager or any other type of role that comes with the word “manager” attached to it, you don’t necessarily manage other people. You might even work alone or directly with clients but with no subordinates under your direct supervision. You might work in as a part of team of very independent people who work as equals.

And if any of those descriptions fit your role, it means that this role requires different “specific qualities” in order to be effective. For example, you might need to have enough confidence to admit that you don’t know everything. Or you might need the ability to make hard decisions in short times. Or you might need to have leadership qualities. And sometimes you might need to have entrepreneurship qualities. But not always. It depends on your role. Because the fact that you have the word ”manager” in your title or on your business card does not mean anything.

So, what is the bottom line? I think that when we discuss the word “manager” or think of hiring someone for a “managerial” role, it is very important to understand and to communicate what exactly this manager is? Because the word “manager” triggers the imagination of people differently and it had become too generic to be understood by its own.

1 COMMENT

  1. For many Manager means one who manages people.However that is not always true.In my professional career,one of my designation was that of a Deputy General Manager– Business Development.It was a one man Dept., where I was directly reporting to my Co.’s Vice Chairman.This invariably happens whenever a co.decides to diversify or acquire another co..Here the Chairman or VC or Director who is the recognised leader of the co. becomes a Manager and the Manager of the new dept.or the acquired co. takes the role of a Leader.

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